Sunday, November 16, 2014

And the wheels in my head started turning

I'm Lookin' Up From Somewhere Below
The Atmosphere Is Warm And They've Got Plenty Of Coal
Maybe Someone Above Can Hear My Story
How A Fool Lost His Soul For A Moment Of Glory

And That's All, That's All, That's All

Now Bill Was My Friend, Throughout My Short-Lived Life
'Til I Caught Him Out With Mary, My Wife
Then The Wheels In My Head Started Turnin'
A Death Plan I Made Up For Both Of Those Concernin'


They Took Me To Prison And They Locked Me In A Cell
They Gave Me My Last Big Meal Then Strapped Me To A
Then They Turned On The Juice, And I Felt Somethin' A


SPECIAL NOTE... Alternate First Verse exists... it was
only ever used in Burl Ives' rendition of the song...
Neither Lefty Frizzell nor Cowboy Copas used it in
their renditions. Frankly, I like the first verse in
the Frizzell and Copas versions better... however I
have printed the alternate first verse below:

Come Listen While I Tell You 'Bout A Man That's Gonna
Be Patient With Me Won't You Please, If I Should Start
To Cry
Maybe One Of You Can Understand My Story
How A Fool Lost His Soul For A Moment Of Glory...

As usual, this came in the back door.

My dear friend David West is facing a medical crisis, will soon be having what amounts to emergency surgery to install a pacemaker, mainly because his pulse is dropping to as low as 30 beats per minute. He needed a ride from Abbotsford to Vancouver and back, had no prospects, but suddenly after a Facebook request, two people stepped forward who are happy to be of service.  I pray this is a good sign and that he'll come through it and feel better than he has in a long time. 

Pooh and Piglet can't be separated.

At any rate, in the midst of all this, David finds a skinny little stray cat hanging around his place, obviously direly cold and hungry. He took it in and began to plump him up, though Kitty is still understandably wary. In reading about all this on Facebook, suddenly a song sprang into my head, a song by Burl Ives that is lodged in my head forever:

Well, here it is! A few months ago I looked for this album and couldn't find it. When we first got our cat Murphy back in 1990, I kept singing this song, and my kids kept saying, "That's not a real song. You're making that up." I got most of the lyrics wrong, so they were almost right. But here it is! And it's about someone finding a stray cat and taking it in.

But that led to something else, and I still can't find it. On one of his more obscure, darker albums, Ives recorded a song called That's All I Can Remember. It was sombre and almost sinister, with Ives singing in a very low-key and almost resigned voice. Very spooky. It reminded me a bit of Long Black Veil, and the story is essentially the same except that in this one, like in a gangster movie from the 1930s, the guy gets "the chair". One can almosts see him screaming and convulsing and clutching the arms of the chair as the plumes of smoke rise above his head. 

I can't find the Ives version anywhere, though I know it will sneak onto YouTube some day. There are only a couple other versions, and this one is nice, but a little too cheery and Latin-sounding. There are some variations in the lyrics, with Ives introducing and setting up the story in a more dramatic fashion. Understandable, since he was such a kick-ass actor.

Ives was supposed to be folksy and recorded lots of children's songs, but in his soul he was Big Daddy, surly and menacing, with a sense of restrained power that might fly out and do terrible destruction. As in this song. It's literally sung from the pits of hell, where he will fry for all eternity. Not exactly a song you want to sing for the kiddies.

Look at the little kitty cat
A-walkin' down the street
I bet he's got no place to go
Or nothin' good to eat
Look at the little kitty cat
With tiny tired feet
He ought to have a place to go
'Cause he's so very sweet

Here kitty, here kitty,
Here little kitty, here little kitty
Here kitty, here kitty,
Here little kitty cat.

I'm gonna ask my mama
If she'll let me take him home
Where I can hold him close to me
So he won't have to roam
He oughta have a lot of milk
And lots of fish and meat
Instead of finding what he can
In the alley or the street

(Musical interlude)

Now look at the little kitty cat
A-sleepin' in his bed
He's got a place to rest his feet
and lay his weary head
I'm going to see that he will stay
As happy as can be
And now when he goes walking
He'll go walking next to me

Oh kitty oh kitty oh how I love my sweet little kitty
Oh kitty oh kitty 
Sweet little kitty cat.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look